Welcome to another post in my Writing Tip Wednesday series. Today I’m joined by author Paula Harmon. If you would like to be part of this series, please contact me.
I made excuses for not writing for years. I didn’t have space, I didn’t have time, I didn’t have the right equipment. Then one day I stopped making excuses and got on with it. I realised it didn’t matter if I didn’t finish something straight away: either I’d get there one day or I’d use the ‘snippet’ somewhere else. I learnt to write in noisy environments on a phone if necessary. Now I try to write something every day if I can, even if it’s just a sentence or a phrase, even if I know it’ll never turn into anything. It just keeps the writing muscles toned.
You Can Find Prompts Anywhere
- There are lots of Facebook groups and websites which can help you with prompts when your mind goes blank. These are especially helpful for short fiction, but there’s no reason why they can’t start a novel.
- Take an ordinary situation and wonder ‘what if?’. For example, you get on a bus – what if you didn’t get off at your stop? What if you’re on the wrong bus? What if when you get to your destination it’s completely different? (This could be spooky or or romantic or sad or mysterious or funny – the call is yours.)
- Make a folder of pictures which catch your imagination. They don’t need to be ‘good’ pictures or even recognisable. I have one of a blurred patch of grass taken by accident – it make me wonder – who’s in a hurry? Where are they going? What are they running from?
Get to Know Your Characters
Interview your characters! Sounds mad, but it’s very useful. There are lots of example interviews available and you can have a lot of fun with them. It can surprise you when you ‘find out’ your characters pet hate or secret fear and it gives them a bit of depth. It’s also a handy technique when you get stuck. Go and ask your characters some awkward questions. Make them suffer a bit for a change. It’ll almost certainly kick start your thoughts.
Don’t Be Afraid of Constructive Criticism
If you can find someone you trust to give feedback, don’t be afraid to ask them. Sometimes it hurts if someone doesn’t ‘get’ or like something but if you can take a step back and look at it objectively, you may find that they’ve found something that needs to be improved and when you do, your writing will be better and stronger.
It’s Ok to Write Just for Yourself Sometimes
I have at one story that few people have ever read because it’s too personal and raw. I needed to write it to get something out of my system and once it was written down, I could move on.
It’s Good for You
There was a long time when I didn’t write at all. I didn’t realise how fundamentally miserable I was without an outlet for my creativity. Once I started again, I felt less stressed, more fulfilled, more complete.
About Paula Harmon
Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005.
She is a civil servant, married with two teenage children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.
Connect with Paula